Call it “Hannibal Lecter, the early years.”
After a silence of seven years, author Thomas Harris has written a new book featuring fictional serial killer/cannibal Hannibal Lecter, famously played in films by Anthony Hopkins.
The book, “Hannibal Rising,” will be in stores on Dec. 5 with a first printing of 1.5 million copies and just in time for the Christmas sales season, Delacorte Press, an imprint of the Bantam Dell Publishing Group, said Tuesday.
The 356-page novel, a last-minute addition to Delacorte’s list of new books for the holiday season, is the fourth book dealing with the cannibalistic doctor and chronicles his early years, Bantam publisher Irwyn Applebaum said.
Applebaum said the book was an eagerly awaited part of the story but had taken seven years since the last novel in the series, “Hannibal,” as Harris, a native of Mississippi, does not write at a “prolific pace” for a popular novelist.
“This villain has fascinated readers. It’s very unusual for a character to stay alive that long in the imagination of readers,” Applebaum told Reuters.
Lecter first appeared in print in Harris’ 1981 book “Red Dragon” and then in 1988 in “Silence of the Lambs.”
But he became widely known through the 1991 Oscar-winning movie “Silence of the Lambs,” starring Hopkins and Jodie Foster as FBI trainee-turned-agent Clarice Starling.
The film ends with Lecter, who enjoys a glass of Chianti as he devours human liver, saying he has to go: “I do wish we could chat longer, but I’m having an old friend for dinner.”
In “Hannibal Rising” readers learn about Lecter’s early life in Eastern Europe from age 6 to 20, following the death of his entire family during World War Two.
A film version of the new novel from a screenplay by Harris is expected to be released in February 2007.
Harris’ only novel not dealing with Lecter is his first, ”Black Sunday” in 1975, a best seller about a terrorist plot to blow up the Super Bowl with a bomb-laden blimp.